Sniping in France 1914-18 by Major H. Hesketh-Prichard DSO, MC
For anyone wanting to get a sense of what it was like to train and operate as a sniper during the Great War 1914-1918, a must read is Sniping in France 1914-18 by Major H. Hesketh-Prichard DSO, MC. ISBN: 1874622477. This is a highly interesting read and discusses the use of tactics, equipment, training methods and the creating of the first official sniper training school for British forces. To realize that their engagement ranges for early SMILE and Pattern sniper rifles with Winchester A5, Aldis and Periscopic Prism scopes was between 200 and 400 meters (average distance between trenches) is fascinating, when we think about modern military sniper engagements today starting at 600 meters and going out to 2,000 meters with heavy caliber rifles.
There are two rifles of the kind Prichard talks about being used, in the England - Milsurp Knowledge Library (click here)
1916 ShtLE (Short Lee-Enfield) No.1 MkIII* Sniper Rifle (click here) .....
No3 MkI* (T) Rifle - (Pattern 1914 Mk1* W (T) Sniper Rifle)(click here) .....
This book is out of print, so I'd suggest you use a "Google" search on the title to see if you can find a copy from one of the rare used book sources on the Internet. I found my copy on Amazon.com. ......
SNIPING IN FRANCE 1914-18: With Notes on the Scientific Training of Scouts, Observers, and Snipers (Cick here for Amazon.com)
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Helion and Company Ltd.; Newly-typset Ed edition (August 2004)
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
(Click PIC to Enlarge)
Book Review from Hellfire Corner - Great War Web Pages
This is a very well-made book - an excellent product. It's the first in a new series from Helion, to be called "The Helion Library of the Great War." They have chosen a much sought-after title to begin with.
The magnificently-named Hesketh Vernon Hesketh-Pritchard was very much an action man. A big-game hunter, considered by many to be the best rifle shot in the world, he was a much-travelled and essentially practical man. He loved sport - especially cricket - and in some ways he was the stuff of the "boys' own" type of all-action stories which were so popular at the time, and even wrote some examples of the genre himself!
When the great War began he secured a commission in the army and before long he was being looked upon as the army's own "Sniping Expert." His expertise and enthusiasm for his subject, were beyond doubt. He was also (to use one of his own phrases) a "man of push and go" and these qualities must have made him a considerable force when he set about the task of convincing his superiors of the need to organise the army's sniping activities by means of a scientific approach and proper training. Before long, Hesketh-Pritchard was in charge of the First Army School of Sniping, Observing and Scouting in which he was able to put into effect his theories - not just about snipers as effective shots, but also about how to make use of the attendant skills which sniping entailed. For example, his experience as a hunter had taught him the importance of becoming extremely familiar with the habitat of his quarry, and it was an easy step for him to transfer these skills to No-Man's Land. He saw how a sniper, patiently watching a section of enemy trench, and familiar with every detail of it, would notice slight changes, movements and signs which a less interested observer might miss - information which could have a significant Intelligence value.
"Sniping in France" is Hesketh-Pritchard's own account of how he went about the job of developing his ideas. It's an engaging read and the written style is wonderful! It's almost an object-lesson in how to write a war memoir, 1920-style. If Hesketh-Pritchard had a sergeant who was in charge of correcting telescopic sights, then you can be sure that he was the best man in the world at this job. The Army commanders he came into contact with were "without equal" in all aspects of leadership. All private soldiers talk with a mixtures of dropped aspirates and unlikely sentence-construction - wonderful stuff.
Behind this modern-day amusement though, there is a serious side. Hesketh-Pritchard doesn't mention big, set-piece battles. There are no Sommes or Passchendaeles in his book. His focus - like the view through his telescopes - was very narrow. He was concerned with the solitary task of lying concealed and watching. While other branches of the army looked for ways of killing the enemy en masse amid great uproar and drama, he was concerned with killing Germans quietly, personally and one at a time.
As students of the Great War, it does us good to leave off looking at the "big picture" now and then, and look in detail at a very small part of the whole thing, just as the snipers and observers did. There is a lot of important and absorbing detail in this book. For example - we all know that British snipers used telescopic sights, but how many of us knew that the sights were actually fixed to the side of the rifle, not on the top? One wonders why. So did Hesketh Pritchard!
A really welcome addition to the current Great War library. Congratulations to Helion on launching their new series so well.
Last edited by Badger; 05-22-2007 at 08:24 AM.
04-17-2007 08:58 AM
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I have that book, a very good read.
My ISBN is 0 935856 09 9
So I can't spell, so what!!!
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